A councillor on Herefordshire’s planning committee has been rebuked for likening claims made about a planning application to those made by Russia’s President Putin.

Independents for Herefordshire councillor William Wilding is a frequent critic of a perceived lack of sustainability in new development proposals in the county.

He said of a bid debated by the committee today (May 6) to build two houses in an orchard by the village of Bush Bank: “I have a lot of problems with this application. It’s expanding into the countryside.

“To pretend that building a couple of houses is going to soften the transition between human activity and nature is bit like Vladimir Putin saying he is eradicating the Nazis from wherever he’s going. It’s not doing what it should be doing.”

He added: “If we’re going to put a building, let’s make sure it’s absolutely the right type, designed to complement the use of solar panels, we shouldn’t be building any buildings anywhere that don’t incorporate that concept.”


Coun Wilding was told by committee chair Coun Terry James to “please keep to planning policy”.

“I refuse to do that, chair, because the (planning) policies were made up before we realised how bad the situation was ecologically,” Coun Wilding replied.

“Your comments will be open to legal challenge by any applicant as prejudicial,” Coun James warned.

“President Putin et cetera are not planning matters – please confine yourself to those. We need to deal with planning policy as it is.”

The houses at issue are to be single-storey three-bedroom structures “in traditional cart shed form”, the planning application said.

The orchard site “lies at the end of an established ribbon of wayside development” in the village, with houses to its east and south, and therefore “adjacent to the main built-up form of Bush Bank”, an officer’s report to the meeting said.

“The buildings would ensure a sense of spaciousness that softens the transition between the open countryside and the village,” the report concluded.

The proposal had drawn objections from 16 individuals and households, and Pyons Group Parish Council also objected on grounds including location, local housing need, loss of productive land and hedgerow, and potential pollution.

However neither Natural England nor the council’s drainage engineer objected to the proposed on-site waste water treatment.

Councillors on the committee visited the site yesterday before making their decision, which in the end was eight votes for the proposal, three against, with one abstention.